– Abiogenesis, or “chemical evolution”, is the study of how life on Earth could have arisen from inanimate matter. It should not be confused with evolution, which is the study of how groups of living things change over time. Amino acids, often called “the building blocks of life”, can form via natural chemical reactions unrelated to life. In all living things, these amino acids are organized into proteins, and the construction of these proteins is mediated by nucleic acids. Thus the question of how life on Earth originated is a question of how the first nucleic acids arose.
– Allele: It is one member of a pair or series of different forms of a gene. Usually alleles are coding sequences, but sometimes the term is used to refer to a non-coding sequence. An individual’s genotype for that gene is the set of alleles it happens to possess.
– Animal husbandry, also called animal science, stockbreeding or simple husbandry: It is the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock. It has been practiced for thousands of years, since the first domestication of animals.
– Anthropology: It is the study of human beings, in all places and at all times. Anthropology has origins in the natural sciences, and the humanities. In Great Britain it was originally divided into physical anthropology and cultural anthropology, which itself was divided into archaeology, technology, ethnology (the comparative study of different peoples, focusing on material culture, language, religion and other social institutions) and sociology (the comparative study of social phenomena). In the United States anthropology traditionally has comprised four fields: physical anthropology, archaeology, linguistics and cultural anthropology.
– Anthropomorphism: It is the attribution of uniquely human characteristics to non-human creatures and beings, natural and supernatural phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. Subjects for anthropomorphism commonly include animals and plants depicted as creatures with human motivation able to reason and converse, forces of nature such as winds or the sun, components in games, unseen or unknown sources of chance, etc.
– Archaea: They are a group of single-celled microorganisms. A single individual or species from this domain is called an archaeon (sometimes spelled “archeon”). Archaea, like bacteria, are prokaryotes. They have no cell nucleus or any other organelles within their cells. In the past they were viewed as an unusual group of bacteria and named archaebacteria but since the Archaea have an independent evolutionary history and show many differences in their biochemistry from other forms of life, they are now classified as a separate domain in the three-domain system.
– Artificial selection (or selective breeding): It describes intentional breeding for certain traits, or combination of traits. It was defined by Charles Darwin in contrast to natural selection, in which the differential reproduction of organisms with certain traits is attributed to improved survival or reproductive ability. Artificial selection can also be unintentional; it is thought that domestication of crops by early humans was largely unintentional.
– Bacteria (bacterium): They are a large group of unicellular microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals. Bacteria are ubiquitous in every habitat on Earth, growing in soil, acidic hot springs, radioactive waste, water, and deep in the Earth’s crust, as well as in organic matter and the live bodies of plants and animals. There are typically 40 million bacterial cells in a gram of soil and a million bacterial cells in a millilitre of fresh water; in all, there are approximately five nonillion (5×1030) bacteria on Earth, forming much of the world’s biomass. Bacteria are vital in recycling nutrients, with many steps in nutrient cycles depending on these organisms, such as the fixation of nitrogen from the atmosphere and putrefaction. However, most bacteria have not been characterized, and only about half of the phyla of bacteria have species that can be grown in the laboratory. The study of bacteria is known as bacteriology, a branch of microbiology.
– Baldwin effect, also known as Baldwinian evolution or ontogenic evolution, is an early evolutionary theory put forward in 1896 in a paper “A New Factor in Evolution” by American psychologist James Mark Baldwin which proposes a mechanism for specific selection for general learning ability. Selected offspring would tend to have an increased capacity for learning new skills rather than being confined to genetically coded, relatively fixed abilities. In effect, it places emphasis on the fact that the sustained behaviour of a species or group can shape the evolution of that species.
– Barnacle: It is a type of arthropod belonging to infraclass Cirripedia in the subphylum Crustacea, and is hence distantly related to crabs and lobsters. Barnacles are exclusively marine, and tend to live in shallow and tidal waters, typically in erosive settings. Around 1,220 barnacle species are currently known
– Biblical inerrancy is the doctrine that, in its original form, the Bible is totally without error, and free from all contradiction in every way including the historical and scientific parts.
– Biometrics: It refers to methods for uniquely recognizing humans based upon one or more intrinsic physical or behavioural traits. In information technology, in particular, biometrics is used as a form of identity access management and access control. It is also used to identify individuals in groups that are under surveillance.
– Butler Act: It was a 1925 Tennessee law forbidding public school teachers to deny the literal Biblical account of man’s origin and to teach in its place the evolution of man from lower orders of animals. The law did not prohibit the teaching of any evolutionary theory of any other species of plant or animal.
– Carbon-14, 14C, or radiocarbon: It is a radioactive isotope of carbon. Its nucleus contains 6 protons and 8 neutrons. Its presence in organic materials is the basis of the radiocarbon dating method to date archaeological, geological, and hydro-geological samples.
There are three naturally occurring isotopes of carbon on Earth: 99% of the carbon is carbon-12, 1% is carbon-13, and carbon-14 occurs in trace amounts, e.g. making up as much as 1 part per trillion (0.0000000001%) of the carbon in the atmosphere. The half-life of carbon-14 is 5,730±40 years. It decays into nitrogen-14 through beta decay. The activity of the modern radiocarbon standard is about 14 disintegrations per minute (dpm) per gram carbon.
– Cladistics is a form of biological systematics which classifies living organisms on the basis of shared ancestry. It focus on evolutionary relationships; while other systems usually use morphological similarities to group similar species into genera, families and other higher level classification, cladistics tries to construct a tree representing the ancestry of organisms and species. Cladistics is also distinguished by its emphasis on objective, quantitative analysis, rather than subjective decisions that some other taxonomic systems rely upon.
– Cladograms are diagrams used in cladistics. They show ancestral relations between organisms, to represent the evolutionary tree of life. Although traditionally such cladograms were generated largely on the basis of morphological characters, DNA and RNA sequencing data and computational phylogenetics are now very commonly used in the generation of cladograms.
– Common descent: A group of organisms is said to have common descent if they have a common ancestor. In modern biology, it is generally accepted that all living organisms on Earth are descended from a common ancestor or ancestral gene pool.
– Copernican principle: In cosmology, it is named after Nicolaus Copernicus, states the Earth is not in a central, specially favoured position. More recently, the principle is generalised to the relativistic concept that humans are not privileged observers of the universe. In this sense, it is equivalent to the mediocrity principle, with significant implications in the philosophy of science.
Since the 1990s, the term has been used (interchangeably with “the Copernicus method”) for J. Richard Gott’s Bayesian inference-based prediction of duration of ongoing events, a generalized version of the Doomsday argument.
– Creation according to Genesis: It is the creation myth in the first two chapters of Genesis. The two chapters contain two successive accounts of creation, the first taking the form of the “creation week”, the second relating the Eden narrative. The majority of scholars believe the two accounts are independent in origin, but creationists and fundamentalists continue to argue that second should be seen as a continuation and expansion of the first.
– Creation evangelism: It is the use of creationist scientific, philosophical and theological arguments to prove the literal interpretation of Genesis and thus the reliability of the Bible and the truth of the Christian gospel to people so that they may become convinced that Christianity is true. This approach to evangelism is often used by missionary organizations in parts of the world that have tribal cultures that have not been exposed to Christianity before.
– Creation myth or cosmogony myth: It is a supernatural mytho-religious story or explanation that describes the beginnings of humanity, earth, life, and the universe (cosmogony), often as a deliberate act by one or more deities. Many creation myths share broadly similar themes. Common motifs include the fractionation of the things of the world from a primordial chaos; the separation of the mother and father gods; land emerging from an infinite and timeless ocean; or creation ex nihilo (out of nothing).
– Creation science or scientific creationism: It is the movement within creationism which attempts to provide support for the Genesis account of creation, and disprove accepted scientific facts, theories and scientific paradigms on the history of the Earth, cosmology and biological evolution. Its most vocal proponents are fundamentalist and conservative Christians in the United States who seek to prove Biblical inerrancy and mount a challenge against the scientifically accepted theory of evolution. Key concepts in creation science include belief in “creation ex nihilo”; that mankind and other life on earth were created as unique, fixed “baraminological” kinds, and the hypothesis that fossils found in geological strata are indicative of an historical flood which extended over the whole earth. While creation science purports to be a true scientific challenge to the theory of evolution, often referred to by creation science proponents as Darwinism or as Darwinian evolution, it has never been recognized by or accepted within the scientific community as a valid scientific method of inquiry.
– Creationism: It is the belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe were created in their original form by a deity (often the Abrahamic God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) or deities. In relation to the creation-evolution controversy the term creationism is commonly used to refer to religiously motivated rejection of evolution as an explanation of origins.
Creationism in the West is usually based on creation according to Genesis, and in its broad sense covers a wide range of beliefs and interpretations. Through the 19th century the term most commonly referred to direct creation of individual souls, in contrast to traducianism. However, by 1929 in the United States the term became particularly associated with Christian fundamentalist opposition to human evolution and belief in a young Earth. Several U.S. states passed laws against the teaching of evolution in public schools, as upheld in the Scopes Trial. Evolution was omitted entirely from school textbooks in much of the United States until the 1960s. Since then, renewed efforts to introduce teaching reationism in American public schools in the form of flood geology, creation science, and Intelligent Design have been consistently held to contravene the constitutional separation of Church and State by a succession of legal judgments.
– Darwinism: It is a term used for various movements or concepts related to ideas of transmutation of species or evolution, including ideas with no connection to the work of Charles Darwin. The meaning of Darwinism has changed over time, and varies depending on who is using the term.
– Day-Age creationism: It is a type of Old Earth creationism, is an interpretation of the creation accounts found in Genesis. It holds that the six days referred to in the Genesis account of creation are not ordinary 24-hour days, but rather are much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years). The Genesis account is then interpreted as an account of the process of cosmic evolution, providing a broad base on which any number of theories and interpretations are built. Proponents of the Day-Age Theory can be found among theistic evolutionists (who accept the scientific consensus on evolution) and progressive creationists (who reject it). The theories are said to be built on the understanding that the Hebrew word yom is used to refer to a time period, with a beginning and an end, and not necessarily that of a 24 hour day.
– Determinism: It is the view that every event, including human cognition, behaviour, decision, and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. Determinists believe the universe is fully governed by causal laws resulting in only one possible state at any point in time.
– Discovery Institute: It is a conservative public policy US think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of Intelligent Design and its Teach the Controversy campaign to teach creationist anti-evolution beliefs in United States public high schools science courses. A federal court, along with the majority of scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, say the Institute has manufactured the controversy they want to teach by promoting a false perception that evolution is “a theory in crisis”, through incorrectly claiming that it is the subject of wide controversy and debate within the scientific community. In 2005, a federal court ruled that the Discovery Institute pursues “demonstrably religious, cultural, and legal missions”, and the institute’s manifesto, the Wedge strategy, describes a religious goal: to “reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions”.
– DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid): It is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and some viruses. The main role of DNA molecules is the long-term storage of information. DNA is often compared to a set of blueprints or a recipe, or a code, since it contains the instructions needed to construct other components of cells, such as proteins and RNA molecules. The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes.
– Empirical laws are typically conclusions based on repeated scientific experiments and simple observations, over many years, and which have become accepted universally within the scientific community. The production of a summary description of our environment in the form of such laws is a fundamental aim of science.
– Essentialism: Before evolution was developed as a scientific theory, there existed an essentialist view of biology that posited all species to be unchanging throughout time. Some religious opponents of evolution continue to maintain this view of biology.
-Establishment Clause of the First Amendment: It refers to the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. Together with the Free Exercise Clause, these two clauses make up what are commonly known as the “religion clauses” of the First Amendment. The establishment clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference of one religion over another. The first approach is called the “separation”, or “no aid” interpretation, while the second approach is called the “non-preferential”, or “accommodation” interpretation. The accommodation interpretation prohibits Congress from preferring one religion over another, but does not prohibit the government’s entry into religious domain to make accommodations in order to achieve the purposes of the Free Exercise Clause.
– Euc(k)aryota (euc(k)aryotes): Animals, plants, fungi, and protists are eukaryotes organisms whose cells are organized into complex structures enclosed within membranes. The defining membrane-bound structure that differentiates eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic cells is the nucleus. Many eukaryotic cells contain other membrane-bound organelles such as mitochondria, chloroplasts and Golgi bodies.
– Eugenics: It is a “the study of, or belief in, the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics).” Eugenics was at its height in the early decades of the 20th century and was largely abandoned with the end of World War II. At its zenith, the movement often pursued pseudoscientific notions of racial supremacy and purity.
– Evolution: In biology it is change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next. These changes are caused by a combination of three main processes: variation, reproduction, and selection. Genes that are passed on to an organism’s offspring produce the inherited traits that are the basis of evolution. These traits vary within populations, with organisms showing heritable differences in their traits. When organisms reproduce, their offspring may have new or altered traits. These new traits arise in two main ways: either from mutations in genes or from the transfer of genes between populations and between species. In species that reproduce sexually, new combinations of genes are also produced by genetic recombination, which can increase variation between organisms. Evolution occurs when these heritable differences become more common or rare in a population.
– Evolution and the Catholic Church: The position of the Catholic Church on the theory of evolution has moved over the last two centuries from a large period of no official mention, to a statement of neutrality in the 1950s, to a more explicit acceptance in recent years. Today, the official Church’s position remains a focus of controversy and is fairly non-specific, stating only that faith and scientific findings regarding human evolution are not in conflict, though humans are regarded as a “special creation”, and that the existence of God is required to explain the spiritual component of human origins. This view falls into the spectrum of viewpoints that are grouped under the concept of theistic evolution.
– Evolutionary biology: It is a sub-field of biology concerned with the origin of species from a common descent and descent of species, as well as their change, multiplication and diversity over time. Someone who studies evolutionary biology is known as an evolutionary biologist.
– Evolutionism refers to doctrines of evolution, and more specifically to a widely held 19th century belief that organisms are intrinsically bound to improve themselves, and that changes are progressive and arise through inheritance of acquired characters, as in Lamarckism. The belief was extended to include cultural evolution and social evolution. The term can be used to refer to acceptance of the modern evolutionary synthesis, a scientific theory that describes the causes of biological evolution. In the creation-evolution controversy, creationists often call those who accept the validity of the modern evolutionary synthesis “evolutionists” and the theory itself as “evolutionism.” Some creationists and creationist organizations, such as the Institute of Creation Research, use these terms in an effort to make it appear that evolutionary biology is a form of secular religion.
– Exaptation, cooption, and pre-adaptation are related terms referring to shifts in the function of a trait during evolution. For example, a trait can evolve because it served one particular function, but subsequently it may come to serve another. Exaptations are common in both anatomy and behaviour. Bird feathers are a classic example: initially these evolved for temperature regulation, but later were adapted for flight.
– Falsifiability (or refutability): It is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment. That something is “falsifiable” does not mean it is false; rather, that if it is false, then this can be shown by observation or experiment. Falsifiability is an important concept in science and the philosophy of science. The term “Testability” is related but more specific; it means that an assertion can be falsified through experimentation alone.
Some philosophers and scientists, most notably Karl Popper, have asserted that a hypothesis, proposition, or theory is scientific only if it is falsifiable.
– Fideism: It is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason, or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths . The word fideism comes from fides, the Latin word for faith, and literally means “faith-ism.”
– Flood geology (also creation geology or diluvial geology): It is a set of religious beliefs under the umbrella of creationism that assumes the literal truth of a global flood as described in the Genesis account of Noah’s Ark. For adherents, the global flood and its aftermath are believed to be the origin of most of the Earth’s geological features, including sedimentary strata, fossilization, fossil fuels, and salt domes.
– Framework interpretation (also known as the literary framework view, framework theory, or framework hypothesis): It is an interpretation of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis which holds that the seven-day creation account found therein is not a literal or scientific description of the origins of the universe; rather, it is an ancient religious text which outlines a theology of creation. The seven day “framework” is therefore not meant to be chronological but is a literary or symbolic structure designed to reinforce the purposefulness of God in creation and the Sabbath commandment.
– Gamete is a cell that fuses with another gamete during fertilization (conception) in organisms that reproduce sexually. In species that produce two morphologically distinct types of gametes, and in which each individual produces only one type, a female is any individual that produces the larger type of gamete — called an ovum (or egg) — and a male produces the smaller tadpole-like type — called a sperm. This is an example of anisogamy or heterogamy, the condition wherein females and males produce gametes of different sizes (this is the case in humans; the human ovum is approximately 20 times larger than the human sperm cell). In contrast, isogamy is the state of gametes from both sexes being the same size and shape, and given arbitrary designators for mating type. Gametes carry half the genetic information of an individual, one chromosome of each type. In humans, an ovum can carry only X chromosome (of the X and Y chromosomes), whereas a sperm can carry either an X or a Y; hence, it has been suggested that males have the control of the sex of any resulting zygote, as the genotype of the sex-determining chromosomes of a male must be XY and a female XX. In other words, due to the presence of the Y chromosome exclusively in the sperm, it is that gamete alone that can determine that an offspring will be a male.
– Gap creationism (also known as Ruin-Restoration creationism, Restoration creationism, or “The Gap Theory”): It is a form of Old-Earth creationism that posits that the six-day creation, as described in the Book of Genesis, involved literal 24-hour days, but that there was a gap of time between two distinct creations in the first and the second verses of Genesis, explaining many scientific observations, including the age of the Earth. In this it differs from Day-Age creationism, which posits that the ‘days’ of creation were much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years), and from Young Earth creationism, which although it agrees concerning the six literal 24-hour days of creation, does not posit any gap of time.
– Gene: It is the basic unit of heredity in a living organism. All living things depend on genes. Genes hold the information to build and maintain their cells and pass genetic traits to offspring. In general terms, a gene is a segment of nucleic acid that, taken as a whole, specifies a trait. The colloquial usage of the term gene often refers to the scientific concept of an allele.
– Gene flow (also known as gene migration): In population genetics it is the transfer of alleles of genes from one population to another.
– Genealogies of Genesis: It records the descendants of Adam and Eve as given in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. The enumerated genealogy in chapters 4, 5 and 11 reports the lineal male descent to Abraham, including the age at which each patriarch fathered his named son and the number of years he lived thereafter. The genealogy for Cain is given in Chapter 4 and the genealogy for Seth is in Chapter 5. The genealogy in chapter 10 recording the male descendants of Noah is known as the Table of Nations.
– Genetics: It is a discipline of biology, the science of heredity and variation in living organisms. The fact that living things inherit traits from their parents has been used since prehistoric times to improve crop plants and animals through selective breeding.
– Genetic drift or allelic drift: It is the change in the relative frequency with which a gene variant (allele) occurs in a population that results from the fact that alleles in offspring are a random sample of those in the parents, and because of the role of chance in determining whether a given individual survives and reproduces. Genetic drift may cause gene variants to disappear completely, and thereby reduce genetic variability.
– Genome: In classical genetics, the genome of a diploid organism including eukarya refers to a full set of chromosomes or genes in a gamete; thereby, a regular somatic cell contains two full sets of genomes. In haploid organisms, including bacteria, archaea, viruses, and mitochondria, a cell contains only a single set of the genome, usually in a single circular or contiguous linear DNA (or RNA for some viruses). In modern molecular biology the genome of an organism is its hereditary information encoded in DNA (or, for some viruses, RNA). The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA.
– Genotype: It is the genetic constitution of a cell, an organism, or an individual usually with reference to a specific character under consideration.
– Geochronology: In the natural sciences under the umbrella of natural history, Geochronology is the science of determining the absolute age of rocks, fossils, and sediments, within a certain degree of uncertainty inherent within the method used. A variety of dating methods are used by geologists to achieve this. The interdisciplinary approach of using several methods can often achieve best results.
– Geology: It is the science and study of the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth. The field of geology encompasses the study of the composition, structure, physical properties, dynamics, and history of Earth materials, and the processes by which they are formed, moved, and changed. The field is a major academic discipline, and is also important for mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, knowledge about and mitigation of natural hazards, some engineering fields, and understanding past climates and environments with reference to present-day climate change.
– Gospel (from Old English, “good news”) is to be generally one of the first four books of the New Testament that describe the birth, life, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. The four canonical texts are the Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke and Gospel of John, probably written between 65 and 100 AD. They appear to have been originally untitled; they were quoted anonymously in the first half of the second century (i.e. 100 – 150) but the names by which they are currently known appear suddenly around the year 180.
– Hard inheritance stacy is the exact opposite of the term soft inheritance, coined by Ernst Mayr to contrast ideas about inheritance. Hard inheritance states that characteristics of an organism’s offspring (passed on through DNA) will not be affected by the actions that the parental organism performs during its lifetime. The hard inheritance model excludes ideas of Lamarckism. Inheritance due to usage and non-usage is excluded.
– Hermaphrodite: It is an organism having both male and female reproductive organs. In many species, hermaphroditism is a common part of the life-cycle, enabling a form of sexual reproduction in which partners are not separated into distinct male and female types of individual. Hermaphroditism most commonly occurs in invertebrates, although it is also found in some fish, and to a lesser degree in other vertebrates.
– Hermeneutics: it is the study of interpretation theory, and can be either the art of interpretation, or the theory and practice of interpretation. Traditional hermeneutics —which includes Biblical hermeneutics— refers to the study of the interpretation of written texts, especially texts in the areas of literature, religion and law. Contemporary, or modern, hermeneutics encompasses not only issues involving the written text, but everything in the interpretative process.
– Historiometry: It is the historical study of human progress or individual personal characteristics, using statistics to analyze references to famous people, their statements, behaviour and discoveries in relatively neutral texts. Historiometry combines techniques from cliometrics, which studies the history of economics and from psychometrics, the psychological study of an individual’s personality and abilities.
– Homina: The more anthropomorphic primates of the Hominini tribe are placed in the Hominina subtribe. They are characterized by the evolution of an increasingly erect bipedal locomotion. The only extant species is Homo sapiens. Fossil records indicate this subtribe branched from the common ancestor with the chimpanzee lineage about 3 to 5 million years ago.
– Homo sapiens: A human being, also human or man is a member of a species of bipedal primates in the family Hominidae (taxonomically Homo sapiens — Latin: “wise human” or “knowing human”).DNA evidence indicates that modern humans originated in east Africa about 200,000 years ago. Recent evidence on the uniquely Homo sapiens toolkit places the origin of Homo sapiens and its Levallois tool culture at around 265,000BP, also from Ethiopia. Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection and problem solving. This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees the forelimbs (arms) for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species.
– Homo erectus: It is an extinct species of the genus Homo, believed to have been the first hominin to leave Africa.
– Homo habilis, “skillful person”: It is a species of the genus Homo, which lived from approximately 2.5 million to at least 1.6 million years ago at the beginning of the Pleistocene. Homo habilis is arguably the first species of the Homo genus to appear. In its appearance and morphology, Homo habilis was the least similar to modern humans of all species to be placed in the genus Homo (except possibly Homo rudolfensis). Homo habilis was short and had disproportionately long arms compared to modern humans; however, it had a reduction in the protrusion in the face. It is thought to have descended from a species of australopithecine hominid. Its immediate ancestor may have been the more massive and ape-like Homo rudolfensis. Homo habilis had a cranial capacity slightly less than half of the size of modern humans.
– Homo neanderthalensis, the Neanderthal or Neandertal is an extinct member of the Homo genus that is known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. Neanderthals are either classified as a subspecies of humans (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) or as a separate species (Homo neanderthalensis). The first proto-Neanderthal traits appeared in Europe as early as 600,000–350,000 years ago. By 130,000 years ago, complete Neanderthal characteristics had appeared. These characteristics then disappeared in Asia by 50,000 years ago and in Europe by 30,000 years ago. The youngest Neanderthal finds include Hyaena Den (UK), considered older than 30,000 years ago, while the Vindija (Croatia) Neanderthals have been re-dated to between 32,000 and 33,000 years ago. No definite specimens younger than 30,000 years ago have been found; however, evidence of fire by Neanderthals at Gibraltar indicate that they may have survived there until 24,000 years ago.
– Homology: In evolutionary biology it refers to any similarity between characteristics that is due to their shared ancestry. Anatomical structures that perform the same function in different biological species and evolved from the same structure in some ancestor species are homologous. In genetics, homology can be observed in DNA sequences that code for proteins (genes) and in noncoding DNA. For protein coding genes, one can compare translated amino-acid sequences of different genes. Sequence homology may also indicate common function. Homologous chromosomes are chromosomes with the same genes, but non-identical nucleotide sequences that can pair (synapse) during meiosis, and are believed to share common ancestry.
– Human accelerated regions (HARs): They were first described in August 2006; they are a set of 49 segments of the human genome which are conserved throughout vertebrate evolution but are strikingly different in humans. They are named HAR1 through HAR49 according to their degree of difference between humans and chimpanzees (HAR1 showing the largest degree of human-chimpanzee differences of the 49). Found by scanning through giant genomic databases of multiple species, some of these highly mutated areas are thought to have contributed to the development of human neuroanatomy, language, and complex thought. Several of the HARs encompass genes known to produce proteins important in neurodevelopment. HAR1 is a 118 base pair stretch found on the long arm of chromosome 20 overlapping with part of the RNA genes HAR1F and HAR1R. HAR1F is active in the developing human brain. The HAR1 sequence is found (and conserved) in chickens and chimpanzees but is not present in fish or frogs that have been studied. There are 18 base pair mutations different between humans and chimpanzees, far more than expected by its history of conservation.
– Human evolution: It is the part of biological evolution concerning the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species from other hominans, great apes and placental mammals. It is the subject of a broad scientific inquiry that seeks to understand and describe how this change occurred.
– Human genome: It is the genome of Homo sapiens, which is stored on 23 chromosome pairs. Twenty-two of these are autosomal chromosome pairs, while the remaining pair is sex-determining. The haploid human genome occupies a total of just over 3 billion DNA base pairs. The Human Genom Project produced a reference sequence of the euchromatic human genome, which is used worldwide in biomedical sciences.
– Intelligent design movement: It is a neo-creationist religious campaign that calls for broad social, academic and political changes derived from the concept of “Intelligent Design.” Chief amongst its activities are a campaign to promote public awareness of this concept, the lobbying of policymakers to include its teaching in high school science classes, and legal action, either to defend such teaching or to remove barriers otherwise preventing it. The movement arose out of the previous Christian fundamentalist and evangelistic creation science movement in the United States, and is driven by a small group of proponents.
– Intelligent design: It is the assertion that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” It is a modern form of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God that avoids specifying the nature or identity of the designer. The idea was developed by a group of American creationists who reformulated their argument in the creation-evolution controversy to circumvent court rulings that prohibit the teaching of creationism as science. Intelligent design’s leading proponents, all of whom are associated with the Discovery Institute, a politically conservative think tank, believe the designer to be the God of Christianity.
Advocates of Intelligent Design argue that it is a scientific theory, and seek to fundamentally redefine science to accept supernatural explanations. The consensus in the scientific community is that Intelligent Design is not science. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has stated that “creationism, Intelligent Design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.” The U.S. National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have termed it pseudoscience. Others in the scientific community have concurred, and some have called it junk science.
The concept of Intelligent Design originated in response to the 1987 United States Supreme Court Edwards v. Aguillard ruling involving separation of church and state. Its first significant published use was in Of Pandas and People, a 1989 textbook intended for high-school biology classes. Several additional books on the subject were published in the 1990s. By the mid-1990s, Intelligent Design proponents had begun clustering around the Discovery Institute and more publicly advocating the inclusion of Intelligent Design in public school curricula. With the Discovery Institute and its Centre for Science and Culture serving a central role in planning and funding, the “Intelligent Design movement” grew increasingly visible in the late 1990s and early 2000s, culminating in the 2005 Dover trial which challenged the intended use of Intelligent Design in public school science classes.
– Isochron dating: It is a common technique of radiometric dating and is applied to date certain events, such as crystallization, metamorphism, shock events, and differentiation of precursor melts, in the history of rocks. Isochron dating can be further separated into mineral isochron dating and whole rock isochron dating; both techniques are applied frequently to date terrestrial and also extraterrestrial rocks (meteorites). The advantage of isochron dating as compared to simple radiometric dating techniques is that no assumptions about the initial amount of the daughter nuclide in the radioactive decay sequence are needed. Indeed the initial amount of the daughter product can be determined using isochron dating. This technique can be applied if the daughter element has at least one stable isotope other than the daughter isotope into which the parent nuclide decays.
– Jahwist, also referred to as the Jehovist, Yahwist, or simply as J: It is one of the four major sources of the Torah postulated by the Documentary Hypothesis (DH). It is the oldest source, whose narratives make up half of Genesis and the first half of Exodus, plus fragments of Numbers. J describes a human-like God, called Yahweh (or rather YHWH) throughout, and has a special interest in the territory of the Kingdom of Judah and individuals connected with its history. J is believed to have been composed in c 950 BC and later incorporated into the Torah (c 400 BC).
– Lamarckism (or Lamarckian evolution): It is the once widely accepted idea that an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring. It is named for the French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck who incorporated the action of soft inheritance into his evolutionary theories and is often incorrectly cited as the founder of soft inheritance. It proposed that individual efforts during the lifetime of the organisms were the main mechanism driving species to adaptation, as they supposedly would acquire adaptive changes and pass them on to offspring. After publication of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the importance of individual efforts in the generation of adaptation was considerably diminished.
– Laws of nature (Nature laws): they are observable. Laws of nature are distinct from religious and civil law, and should not be confused with the concept of natural law.
– Linnean Society of London: It is the world’s premier society for the study and dissemination of taxonomy and natural history. It publishes a Zoological Journal, as well as Botanical and Biological Journals. It also issues The Linnean, a review of the history of the society and of taxonomy in general. The Linnean Society was founded in 1788, taking its name from the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus.
– Loam: It is soil composed of sand, silt, and clay in relatively even concentration (about 40-40-20% concentration respectively), considered ideal for gardening and agricultural uses. Loam soils generally contain more nutrients and humus than sandy soils, have better infiltration and drainage than silty soils, and are easier to till than clay soils. Loams are gritty, moist, and retain water easily. Different names are given to soils with slightly different proportions of sand, silt, and clay: sandy loam, silty loam, clay loam, sandy clay loam, silty clay loam, and loam.
– Locus (plural loci), in the fields of genetics and evolutionary computation is a fixed position on a chromosome such as the position of a biomarker that may be occupied by one or more genes. A variant of the DNA sequence at a given locus is called an allele. The ordered list of loci known for a particular genome is called a genetic map. Gene mapping is the process of determining the locus for a particular biological trait.
– Lysenkoism is used colloquially to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives. It also denotes the biological inheritance principle which Lysenko subscribed to and which derive from theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics a body of biological inheritance theory which departs from Mendelism and that Lysenko named “Michurinism”. The word is derived from a set of political and social campaigns in science and agriculture by the director of the Soviet Lenin All-Union Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Trofim Denisovich Lysenko and his followers, which began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.
– Macroevolution: It is a scale of analysis of evolution in separated gene pools. Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution, which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population.
– Malthusian catastrophe (also called a Malthusian check, crisis, disaster, or nightmare): It was originally foreseen to be a forced return to subsistence-level conditions once population growth had outpaced agricultural production. Later formulations consider economic growth limits as well. Theories of Malthusian catastrophe are very similar to the subsistence theory of wages. The main difference is that the Malthusian theories predict over several generations or centuries, whereas the subsistence theory of wages predicts over years and decades.
– Malthusianism: It refers to the political/economic thought of Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus whose ideas were first developed during the industrial revolution. It follows his 1798 writings, An Essay on the Principle of Population, which describes how unchecked population growth is exponential while the growth of the food supply was expected to be arithmetical, leading to a Malthusian catastrophe. It drew from this the inference that ideas of charity to the poor typified by Tory paternalism were futile as it would only result in increased numbers of the poor, and was developed into Whig economic ideas exemplified by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, described by opponents as “a Malthusian bill designed to force the poor to emigrate, to work for lower wages, to live on a coarser sort of food”, which brought the construction of workhouses despite riots and arson.
– Marine invertebrates: The term is used to describe animals found in a marine environment which are invertebrates: lacking a notochord. In order to protect themselves, they may have evolved a shell or a hard exoskeleton, but this is not always the case. As on land and in the air, invertebrates make up a huge portion of all life in the sea.
– Masoretic Text (MT): It is the Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible (Tanakh). It defines not just the books of the Jewish canon, but also the precise letter-text of the biblical books in Judaism, as well as their vocalization and accentuation for both public reading and private study. The MT is also widely used as the basis for translations of the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles, and in recent decades also for Catholic Bibles.
– Materialism philosophy holds that the only thing that can be truly proven to exist is matter, and is considered a form of physicalism. Fundamentally, all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions; therefore, matter is the only substance.
– Meme: It is a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, gets transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. Supporters of the concept of memes believe that they act as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures. Memeticists have not definitively empirically proven the existence of discrete memes or their proposed mechanism; they do not form part of the consensus of mainstream social sciences. Meme theory therefore lacks the same degree of influence granted to its counterpart and inspiration, genetics.
– Mendelian inheritance (or Mendelian genetics or Mendelism): It is a set of primary tenets relating to the transmission of hereditary characteristics from parent organisms to their children; it underlies much of genetics. They were initially derived from the work of Gregor Mendel published in 1865 and 1866 which was “re-discovered” in 1900, and were initially very controversial. When they were integrated with the chromosome theory of inheritance by Thomas Hunt Morgan in 1915, they became the core of classical genetics.
– Metaphysical naturalism, or ontological naturalism: It characterizes any worldview in which reality is such that there is nothing but the natural things, forces, and causes of the kind that the natural sciences study, i.e. the things, forces and causes which are required in order to understand our physical environment and which have mechanical properties amenable to mathematical modelling. Metaphysical naturalism entails that all concepts related to consciousness or to the mind refer to entities which are reducible to or supervene on such natural things, forces and causes. More specifically metaphysical naturalism rejects the objective existence of any supernatural thing, force or cause, such as are described in humanity’s various religions and mythological accounts. In this view, all “supernatural” things are ultimately explainable purely in terms of natural things. It is not merely a view about what science studies now, but it can also emphasize what science will encompass in the future. Metaphysical naturalism is a monistic and not a dualistic view of reality.
– Modern evolutionary synthesis: It is a union of ideas from several biological specialties which forms a logical account of evolution. This synthesis has been generally accepted by most working biologists. The synthesis was produced over about a decade (1936–1947), and the development of population genetics (1918–1932) was the stimulus. This showed that Mendelian genetics was consistent with natural selection and gradual evolution. The synthesis is still, to a large extent, the current paradigm in evolutionary biology.
– Molecular clock (based on the molecular clock hypothesis (MCH)): It is a technique in molecular evolution to relate the time that two species diverged to the number of molecular differences measured between the species’ DNA sequences or proteins. It is sometimes called a gene clock or evolutionary clock.
– Monogenesis: It means “single origin”. It has been used in various contexts as an antonym to polygenism or “multiple origins”. In nineteenth-century anthropology, the term was used to refer to the theory that all human beings descend from a single, recent pair of ancestors and are therefore closely related to one another. In contrast, polygenists argued that the different races of mankind had arisen separately in different parts of the world.
– Mutations: In biology they are changes to the nucleotide sequence of the genetic material of an organism. Mutations can be caused by copying errors in the genetic material during cell division, by exposure to ultraviolet or ionizing radiation, chemical mutagens, or viruses, or can be induced by the organism, itself, by cellular processes such as hypermutation. In multicellular organisms with dedicated reproductive cells, mutations can be subdivided into germ line mutations, which can be passed on to descendants through the reproductive cells, and somatic mutations, which involve cells outside the dedicated reproductive group and which are not usually transmitted to descendants. If the organism can reproduce asexually through mechanisms such as cuttings or budding the distinction can become blurred. A new mutation that was not inherited from either parent is called a de novo mutation. The source of the mutation is unrelated to the consequence, although the consequences are related to which cells are affected.
– Naturalistic evolution
Naturalistic evolution is the position of acceptance of biological evolution and of metaphysical naturalism (and thus rejection of theism and theistic evolution).
– Natural history: It is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards the observational than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research that is published in magazines than in academic journals. A person who studies natural history is known as a naturalist.
– Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature: It is a term applied to the objective study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such as physics.
Naturalism is a philosophical position that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws. In its broadest and strongest sense, naturalism is the metaphysical position that “nature is all there is, and all basic truths are truths of nature.” This is generally referred to as metaphysical or ontological naturalism. Another basic form, called methodological naturalism, is an epistemological method of proofing hypotheses. It requires that hypotheses are explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. Yet another form of naturalism is the idea that the methods of science should be used in philosophy. Science and philosophy, according to this view, are said to form a continuum and, hence, the same methods apply to both. W.V. Quine, George Santayana, and others have advocated this view. Any method of inquiry or investigation or any procedure for gaining knowledge that limits itself to natural, physical, and material approaches and explanations can be described as naturalistic.
– Natural theology: It is a branch of theology based on reason and ordinary experience. Thus it is distinguished from revealed theology (or revealed religion) which is based on scripture and religious experiences of various kinds; and also from transcendental theology, theology from a priori reasoning.
– Natural selection: It is the process by which favourable heritable traits become more common in successive generations of a population of reproducing organisms, and unfavourable heritable traits become less common, due to differential reproduction of genotypes. Natural selection acts on the phenotype, or the observable characteristics of an organism, such that individuals with favourable phenotypes are more likely to survive and reproduce than those with less favourable phenotypes. The phenotype’s genetic basis, the genotype associated with the favourable phenotype, will increase in frequency over the following generations. Over time, this process may result in adaptations that specialize organisms for particular ecological niches and may eventually result in the emergence of new species. In other words, natural selection is a mechanism by which evolution may take place within a population of organisms.
– Naturalism: It is a philosophical position that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws. In its broadest and strongest sense, naturalism is the metaphysical position that “nature is all there is and all basic truths are truths of nature.” This is generally referred to as metaphysical or ontological naturalism. Another basic form, called methodological naturalism, is an epistemological method of proofing hypotheses. It requires that hypotheses are explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. Yet another form of naturalism is the idea that the methods of science should be used in philosophy. Science and philosophy, according to this view, are said to form a continuum and, hence, the same methods apply to both. W.V. Quine, George Santayana, and others have advocated this view. Any method of inquiry or investigation or any procedure for gaining knowledge that limits itself to natural, physical, and material approaches and explanations can be described as naturalistic.
– Necessitarianism: It is a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility; there is exactly one way for the world to be. It is the strongest member of a family of principles, including hard determinism, each of which deny free choice, reasoning that human actions are predetermined by external or internal antecedents.
– Nucleic acid: It is a macromolecule composed of chains of monomeric nucleotides. In biochemistry these molecules carry genetic information or form structures within cells. The most common nucleic acids are deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). Nucleic acids are universal in living things, as they are found in all cells and viruses.
– Nucleocosmochronology, also known as cosmochronology: it is a relatively new technique used to determine timescales for astrophysical objects and events. This technique employs the abundances of radioactive nuclides in a way that is very similar to the use of C14 in dating archaeological samples, save that the elements measured are typically uranium and thorium.
Nucleo-cosmochronology has already been successfully employed to determine the age of the Sun (4.57±0.02 Ga, i.e., 4.57×109 years) and of the Galactic thin disk (8.3±1.8 Ga), among others. It has also been used to estimate the age of the Milky Way itself, as exemplified by recent study of the halo star CS31082-001. Limiting factors in its precision are the quality of observations of faint stars, and perhaps more importantly, the uncertainty of the primordial abundances of r-process elements.
– Occam’s Razor, also Ockham’s Razor: It is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English logician and Franciscan friar, William of Ockham. The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory. The principle is often expressed in Latin as the lex parsimoniae (“law of parsimony”, “law of economy”, or “law of succinctness”): entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, roughly translated as “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.” An alternative version Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate translates “plurality should not be posited without necessity.”
When multiple competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities. It is in this sense that Occam’s razor is usually understood.
– Old Earth creationism (OEC): It is an umbrella term for a number of types of creationism, including Gap creationism and Progressive creationism. As hypotheses of origins they are typically more compatible with mainstream scientific thought on the issues of geology, cosmology and the age of the Earth, in comparison to Young Earth creationism; however, they still generally take the accounts of creation in Genesis more literally than theistic evolution (also known as evolutionary creationism) in that OEC rejects the scientific consensus accepting evolution.
– Omphalos hypothesis: It is named after the title of an 1857 book, Omphalos by Philip Henry Gosse, in which Gosse argued that in order for the world to be “functional”, God must have created the Earth with mountains and canyons, trees with growth rings, Adam and Eve with hair, fingernails, and navels (omphalos is Greek for “navel”), and that therefore no evidence that we can see of the presumed age of the earth and universe can be taken as reliable.
– Origin of life or abiogenesis: In the natural sciences, or, is the study of how life on Earth could have arisen from inanimate matter. It should not be confused with evolution, which is the study of how groups of living things change over time. Amino acids, often called “the building blocks of life”, occur naturally, due to chemical reactions unrelated to life. In all living things, these amino acids are organized into proteins, and the construction of these proteins is mediated by nucleic acids. Thus the question of how life on Earth originated is a question of how the first nucleic acids arose.
– Palaeontology (British: palaeontology) is the study of prehistoric life, including organisms’ evolution and interactions with each other and their environments As a “historical science” it tries to explain causes rather than conduct experiments to observe effects. Palaeontology lies on the border between biology and geology, and shares with archaeology a border that is difficult to define. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics and engineering. As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialized subdivisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecological and environmental history, such as ancient climates.
– Pangenesis was Charles Darwin’s hypothetical mechanism for heredity. He presented this ‘provisional hypothesis’ in his 1868 work The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication and felt that it brought ‘together a multitude of facts which are at present left disconnected by any efficient cause’. Pangenesis holds that body cells shed gemmules, which collect in the reproductive organs prior to fertilization. Thus every cell in the body has a ‘vote’ in the constitution of the offspring. Atavisms arise due to the awaking of long-dormant gemmules, while limbs regenerate due to the activation of gemmules from the missing limb.
Pangenesis itself is now seen as deeply flawed and not supported by observation, yet it represents Darwin’s attempt to explain such diverse phenomena as:
• the intermediate nature of hybrids (blending inheritance),
• Lamarckian use and disuse, and
• Limb regeneration.
– Phenotype is any observable characteristic or trait of an organism: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, or behaviour. Phenotypes result from the expression of an organism’s genes as well as the influence of environmental factors and possible interactions between the two. The genotype of an organism is the inherited instructions it carries within its genetic code. Not all organisms with the same genotype look or act the same way, because appearance and behaviour are modified by environmental and developmental conditions. Similarly, not all organisms that look alike necessarily have the same genotype.
– Phylogenetic tree (of life) or evolutionary tree: It is a tree showing the evolutionary relationships among various biological species or other entities that are believed to have a common ancestor. In a phylogenetic tree, each node with descendants represents the most recent common ancestor of the descendants, and the edge lengths in some trees correspond to time estimates. Each node is called a taxonomic unit. Internal nodes are generally called hypothetical taxonomic units (HTUs) as they cannot be directly observed.
– Physical law or scientific law: It is a scientific generalization based on empirical observations of physical behaviour (i.e. the law of nature). Physical law should not be confused with ‘law of physics as the term ‘physical law’ usually covers laws in other sciences (e.g. biology) as well.
– Planetary science, also known as planetology and closely related to planetary astronomy: It is the science of planets, or planetary systems, and the solar system. Incorporating an interdisciplinary approach, planetary science draws from diverse sciences and may be considered a part of the Earth sciences, or more logically, as its parent field. Research tends to be done by a combination of astronomy, space exploration (particularly robotic spacecraft missions), and comparative, experimental and meteorite work based on Earth. There is also an important theoretical component and considerable use of computer simulation. Astrogeology is a major component of planetary sciences.
– Plinian Society: It was a club for students at the University of Edinburgh who were interested in natural history, founded in 1823 by a group of undergraduate students. Several of its members went on to have prominent careers, most notably Charles Darwin who announced his first scientific discoveries at the society.
– Politics of creationism: concerns efforts to change public policy in favour of creationism, currently primarily focusing on what should be taught as science in schools. In the United States, the teaching of biological evolution in the public schools is one significant area of contention, while the teaching of alternatives such as creation science and Intelligent Design are other aspects of the dispute. In addition, creationists have made inroads in the political realm in the US and other countries.
Creationists argue that evolution should not be taught because it is bad science or because it is an anti-theist ideology dressed up as science. Pressure on local school boards and individual teachers has led to de-emphasizing evolution in some public schools, but the teaching of evolution continues to be predominant. Concerned parents, educators, scientists, and other interested parties argue that creation science and Intelligent Design are pseudosciences as well as thinly disguised schemes to introduce religion to the classroom. In the United States, recent court decisions have affirmed this position, consistently barring the introduction of creation science and Intelligent Design into public science curricula.
– Pollination: It is the process by which pollen is transferred in plants, thereby enabling fertilisation and sexual reproduction. Pollen grains, which contain the male gametes (sperm) to where the female gamete(s) are contained within the carpel; in gymnosperms the pollen is directly applied to the ovule itself. The receptive part of the carpel is called a stigma in the flowers of angiosperms. The receptive part of the gymnosperm ovule is called the micropyle. Pollination is a necessary step in the reproduction of flowering plants, resulting in the production of offspring that are genetically diverse.
– Polygenism is a theory of human origins positing that the human races are of different lineages, either from a scientific or a religious basis. This is opposite to the idea of monogenism, which posits a single origin of humanity. The difference between polygenesis and polygenism is this: polygenesis is a process of multiple origins and polygenism is the doctrine that such a process occurred. From the point of view of religion, polygenism is an uncommon Biblical interpretation. Until the mid-1800s it was largely considered heretical.
– Population genetics: It is the study of the allele frequency distribution and change under the influence of the four evolutionary processes: natural selection, genetic drift, mutation and gene flow. It also takes account of population subdivision and population structure in space. As such, it attempts to explain such phenomena as adaptation and speciation. Population genetics was a vital ingredient in the modern evolutionary synthesis.
– Precambrian (Pre-Cambrian): It is an informal name for the supereon comprising the eons of the geologic timescale that came before the current Phanerozoic eon. It spans from the formation of Earth around 4500 Mya (million years ago) to the evolution of abundant macroscopic hard-shelled animals, which marked the beginning of the Cambrian, the first period of the first era of the Phanerozoic eon, some 542 Ma. It is named after the Roman name for Wales – Cambria – where rocks from this age were first studied.
– Predestination: It is a religious concept, which involves the relationship between God and God’s creation. The religious character of predestination distinguishes it from other ideas about determinism and free will. Those who believe in predestination, such as John Calvin, believe that, before the Creation, God determined the fate of the universe throughout all of time and space.
– Premillennialism: in Christian end-times theology is the belief that Christ will literally reign on the earth for 1,000 years, (the millennium), at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Christ’s physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration of the millennium. It is distinct from the other forms of Christian eschatology such as postmillennialism or amillennialism, which view the millennial rule as occurring either before the second coming, or as being figurative and non-temporal. Premillennialism is largely based upon a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 in the New Testament which describes Christ’s coming to the earth and subsequent reign at the end of an apocalyptic period of tribulation. It views this future age as a time of fulfilment for the prophetic hope of God’s people as given in the Old Testament.
– Progressive creationism: It is the religious belief that God created new forms of life gradually, over a period of hundreds of millions of years. As a form of Old Earth creationism, it accepts mainstream geological and cosmological estimates for the age of the Earth, but posits that the new “kinds” of plants and animals that have appeared successively over the planet’s history represent instances of God directly intervening to create those new types by means outside the realm of science. Progressive creationists generally reject macroevolution because they believe it to be biologically untenable and not supported by the fossil record, and they generally reject the concept of universal descent from a last universal ancestor.
– Prophetic evangelism: It is a method employed mainly by charismatic Christians. This is where (as its practitioners believe) God speaks through a Christian to a non-believer to say something that will prompt that person to seek God. On most occasions it is something that the speaker could not have known naturally; for example, someone who is having a secret affair may be told that God knows they are doing wrong and wants them to change their ways.
– Progressive creationism: It is the religious belief that God created new forms of life gradually, over a period of hundreds of millions of years. As a form of Old Earth creationism, it accepts mainstream geological and cosmological estimates for the age of the Earth, but posits that the new “kinds” of plants and animals that have appeared successively over the planet’s history represent instances of God directly intervening to create those new types by means outside the realm of science. Progressive creationists generally reject macroevolution as biologically untenable and not supported by the fossil record, and they generally reject the concept of universal descent from a last universal ancestor.
– Pseudoscience: It is a term applied to any knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that is claimed to be scientific, or that is made to appear to be scientific, but which does not adhere to the scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, or otherwise lacks scientific status.
– Quantitative genetics: It is the study of continuous traits (such as height or weight) and its underlying mechanisms. It is effectively an extension of simple Mendelian inheritance in that the combined effect of the many underlying genes results in a continuous distribution of phenotypic values.
– Quote mining: It is use of the fallacy of quoting out of context, repeatedly employing misquotation in an attempt to skew or contort the meaning and purpose of the original author regarding a controversial topic. The quote miner’s purpose can be to make the author or speaker look incompetent or mistaken or to use an author or speaker’s own words to undermine their argument. The term quote mining originated in the creation-evolution controversy and is most common in that context, but there are some examples of it spreading to other fields. The term quote mining is pejorative.
– Radiohalos or pleochroic halos are microscopic, spherical shells of discolouration within minerals such as biotite that occur in granite and other igneous rocks. The shells are zones of radiation damage caused by the inclusion of minute radioactive crystals within the host crystal structure. The inclusions are typically zircon, apatite or sphene which can accommodate uranium or thorium within their crystal structures. The most widely accepted explanation is that the discolouration is caused by alpha particles emitted by the nuclei; the radius of the concentric shells are proportional to the particle’s energy. Interest in radiohalos was increased by the claims of creationist Robert V. Gentry in 1992 that radiohalos in biotite are evidence for a young earth. These claims are rejected by the scientific community as an example of creationist pseudoscience.
– Radiometric dating (often called radioactive dating): It is a technique used to date materials, usually based on a comparison between the observed abundance of a naturally occurring radioactive isotope and its decay products, using known decay rates; and based on an observation of the relative quantities of the isotope and its daughter products. It is the principal source of information about the absolute age of rocks and other geological features, including the age of the Earth itself, and can be used to date a wide range of natural and man-made materials. Together with stratigraphic principles, radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geological time scale. Among the best-known techniques are radiocarbon dating, potassium-argon dating and uranium-lead dating. By allowing the establishment of geological timescales, it provides a significant source of information about the ages of fossils and the deduced rates of evolutionary change. Radiometric dating is also used to date archaeological materials, including ancient artefacts.
– Recapitulation theory, also called the biogenetic law or embryological parallelism. It is a discredited biological hypothesis. It attempted to provide a link between comparative embryology and a “pattern of unification” in the organic world. In 1866, the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel proposed that the embryonal development of an individual organism (its ontogeny) followed the same path as the evolutionary history of its species (its phylogeny). Haeckel used the Lamarckian picture to describe the ontogenic and phylogenic history of the individual species, but agreed with Darwin about the branching nature of all species from one, or a few, original ancestors. Since around the start of the twentieth century, Haeckel’s “biogenic law” has been refuted on many fronts in favour of Darwin’s more sophisticated view that early embryonic stages are similar to the same embryonic stage of related species, but not to the adult stages of these species.
– RNA (Ribonucleic acid): It is a type of molecule that consists of a long chain of nucleotide units. Each nucleotide consists of a nitrogenous base, a ribose sugar, and a phosphate. RNA is very similar to DNA, but differs in a few important structural details: in the cell, RNA is usually single-stranded, while DNA is usually double-stranded; RNA nucleotides contain ribose while DNA contains deoxyribose (a type of ribose that lacks one oxygen atom); and RNA has the base uracil rather than thymine that is present in DNA.
– Scientific laws are empirical, describing the observable laws.
– Sexual selection: It is the theory proposed by Charles Darwin that states that certain evolutionary traits can be explained by intraspecific competition. Darwin defined sexual selection as the effects of the “struggle between the individuals of one sex, generally the males, for the possession of the other sex”. Biologists today distinguish between “male to male combat” (it is usually males who fight each other), “mate choice” (usually female choice of male mates) and sexual conflict. Traits selected for by male combat are called secondary sexual characteristics (including: horns, antlers, etc.) and sometimes referred to as “weapons”, and traits selected by mate choice are called “ornaments”. Direct competition between members of one sex (usually males) for mates is also classified as intrasexual selection, while mate choice is known as intersexual selection.
– Social Darwinism: It refers to various ideologies based on a concept that competition among all individuals, groups, nations, or ideas drives social evolution in human societies. The term draws upon the common use of the term Darwinism, which is a social adaptation of the theory of natural selection as first advanced by Charles Darwin. Natural selection explains speciation in populations as the outcome of competition between individual organisms for limited resources or “survival of the fittest” (a term in fact coined by Herbert Spencer) (also refer to “The Gospel of Wealth” theory written by Andrew Carnegie).
– Soft inheritance is the term coined by Ernst Mayr to include such ideas as Lamarckism. It contrasts with modern ideas of inheritance, which Mayr called hard inheritance. Since Mendel, modern genetics has held that the hereditary material is impervious to environmental influences (except, of course, mutagenic effects). In soft inheritance “the genetic basis of characters could be modified either by direct induction by the environment, or by use and disuse, or by an intrinsic failure of constancy, and that this modified genotype was then transmitted to the next generation.” Concepts of soft inheritance are usually associated with the ideas of Lamarck and Geoffroy. The concept of hard inheritance holds sway today.
– Survival of the fittest: It refers to a concept relating to competition for survival or predominance. Originally applied by Herbert Spencer in his Principles of Biology of 1864, Spencer drew parallels to his ideas of economics with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by what Darwin termed natural selection.
– Taxon (plural: taxa): It is a group of (one or more) organisms, which a taxonomist adjudges to be a unit. Usually a taxon is given a name and a rank, although neither is a requirement. Defining what belongs or does not belong to such a taxonomic group is done by a taxonomist. It is not uncommon for one taxonomist to disagree with another on what exactly belongs to a taxon, or on what exact criteria should be used for inclusion.
– Taxonomy: It is the practice and science of classification. Taxonomy uses taxonomic units, known as taxa (singular taxon).
– Teleological argument, or argument from design: It is an argument for the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design, or direction -or some combination of these- in nature. Teleology is the supposition that there is purpose or directive principle in the works and processes of nature.
– Theistic evolution and evolutionary creationism: They are similar concepts that assert that classical religious teachings about God are compatible with much or all of the modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. In short, theistic evolutionists believe that there is a God, that he is, in some way, the creator of the material universe and by consequence all life within, and that biological evolution is simply a natural process within that creation. Evolution, according to this view, is simply a tool that God created and employed to help life grow and flourish. Theistic evolution is not a theory in the scientific sense, but a particular view about how the science of evolution relates to religious belief and interpretation. It is sometimes described as Christian Darwinism.
– Teleological argument, or argument from design: It is an argument for the existence of God or a creator based on perceived evidence of order, purpose, design, or direction —or some combination of these— in nature. Teleology is the supposition that there is purpose or directive principle in the works and processes of nature.
– Theodicy is an attempted answer to the problem of evil. It is a specific branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to justify the behaviour of God.
– Transitional fossils: They are the fossilized remains of intermediary forms of life that illustrate an evolutionary transition. They can be identified by their retention of certain primitive (plesiomorphic) traits in comparison with their more derived relatives, as they are defined in the study of cladistics. “Missing link” is a popular term for transitional forms. Numerous examples exist, including those of primates and early humans.
– Transmutation of species: It was a term used by Jean Baptiste Lamarck in 1809 for his theory that described the altering of one species into another. It was one of the names commonly used for evolutionary ideas in the 19th century before Charles Darwin published On The Origin of Species (1859).
– Tree of life: The concept of a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related has been used in science, religion, philosophy, mythology and other areas. A tree of life is variously, a) a mystical concept alluding to the interconnectedness of all life on our planet, b) a metaphor for common descent in the evolutionary sense, and c) a motif in various world theologies, mythologies and philosophies. There are different such trees:
– A dendrogram is a broad term for the diagrammatic representation of a phylogenetic tree.
– A cladogram is a tree formed using cladistic methods. This type of tree only represents a branching pattern, i.e., its branch lengths do not represent time.
– A phylogram is a phylogenetic tree that explicitly represents number of character changes through its branch lengths.
– An ultrametric tree or chronogram is a phylogenetic tree that explicitly represents evolutionary time through its branch lengths.
– Uniformitarianism: In the philosophy of science, it assumes that the natural processes that operated in the past are the same as those that can be observed operating in the present. Its methodology is frequently summarized as “the present is the key to the past,” because it holds that all things continue as they were from the beginning of the world. The concept of uniformity in geological processes can be traced back to the Persian geologist, Avicenna (Ibn Sina), in The Book of Healing, published in 1027. Modern uniformitarianism was formulated by Scottish naturalists in the late 18th century, starting with the work of the geologist, James Hutton, which was refined by John Playfair and popularised by Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology in 1830.
– Unitarianism: It as a theology is the belief in the single personality of God, in contrast to the doctrine of the Trinity (three persons in one God). It is the philosophy upon which the modern Unitarian movement was based, and, according to its proponents, is the original form of Christianity. Unitarian Christians believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, as found in the New Testament and other early Christian writings, and hold him up as an exemplar. Adhering to strict monotheism, they maintain that Jesus was a great man and a prophet of God, perhaps even a supernatural being, but not God himself. Unitarians believe in the moral authority, but not necessarily the divinity, of Jesus.
– Ussher chronology: It is a 17th-century chronology of the history of the world formulated from a literal reading of the Bible by James Ussher, the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh (in what is now Northern Ireland). The chronology is sometimes associated with Young Earth Creationism, which holds that the universe was created only a few millennia ago.
Ussher’s work, more properly known as the Annales veteris testamenti, a prima mundi origine deducti (Annals of the Old Testament, deduced from the first origins of the world), was his contribution to the long-running theological debate on the age of the Earth. This was a major concern of many Christian scholars over the centuries.
– Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation: It was an important controversial theory of Natural history book published anonymously in England in 1844, as championing a natural or evolutionary by way of contrast with a god-given world championed in the era when much thought was still dominated by reliance on religious memes. It proposed a natural theory of cosmic and biological evolution, tying together numerous speculative scientific theories of the age, and created considerable political controversy in Victorian society for its radicalism and unorthodoxy. For many decades there was speculation, often correct, as to its authorship. The 12th edition, published in 1884, finally revealed officially that the author was Robert Chambers, a Scottish journalist, who had himself died in 1871.
– Watchmaker analogy, or watchmaker argument: It is a teleological argument for the existence of God. By way of an analogy, the argument states that design implies a designer. The analogy has played a prominent role in natural theology and the “argument from design,” where it was used to support arguments for the existence of God and for the intelligent design of the universe.
– Wedge strategy: It is a political and social action plan of the Discovery Institute. The strategy was put forth in the Discovery Institute manifesto known as the “Wedge Document”, which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to “defeat scientific materialism” represented by evolution, “reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions”. The strategy also aims to “affirm the reality of God.” Its goal is to “renew” American culture by shaping public policy to reflect conservative Christian, namely evangelical Protestant, values.
– Young Earth creationism (YEC): It is the religious belief that the Heavens, Earth, and life on Earth were created by direct acts of God during a short period, sometime between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. Its adherents are those Christians and who believe that God created the Earth in six 24-hour days, taking the Hebrew text of Genesis as a literal account. Some adherents believe that existing evidence in the natural world today supports a strict interpretation of scriptural creation as historical fact. Those adherents believe that the scientific evidence supporting evolution, geological uniformitarianism, or other theories which are at odds with a literal interpretation of the Genesis creation account, are either flawed or misinterpreted.
– Zygote is a term in Developmental biology used to describe the first stage of a new unique organism when it consists of just a single cell. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the group of cells formed by the first few cell divisions, although this is properly referred to as a blastomere. A zygote is usually produced by a fertilization event between two haploid cells – an ovum from a female and a sperm cell from a male – which combine to form the single diploid cell. Thus the zygote contains DNA originating from both mother and father and this provides all the genetic information necessary to form a new individual.